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tv   CNN Newsroom  CNN  December 23, 2011 8:00am-10:00am PST

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come up with something. come on. give me something good. no? nothing? >> anything i say will just get you and me in trouble. >> no, that was the old us over the past five years. >> that's right. >> let's end on a different note here, kyra. >> to one of the class siest men i've ever met. you know i love you. you're going to be awesome. i'll be watching bet everyday. >> i'll hold you to that. thank you for everything over the past five years, really. i have another show. >> love ya. all right. we're at the top of the hour. doesn't that make you feel all good inside. get you up to speed on some other stuff now. here we are two days before christmas on december 23rd. the deal is done, we think after the republican revolt and republican retreat. the house today approved a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. the senate also signed off on that deal. now heads to the president for his signature. all this means that your taxes will not go up january 1st. will the top senate democrat says it didn't have to be this
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way. in the end house speaker john boehner, he caved in and he gave in to political pressure but still he defends the stand that he took. >> we have fought the fight, the good fight, but i talked to enough members over the last 24 hours who believe that, hey, listen, we don't like this two-month extension. we don't like this reporting problem in the senate bill and if you can get this fixed, why not do the right thing for the american people even though it's not exactly what we want. >> it seems that everything we've done this last year has been a knockdown dragout fight. there is no reason to do that. if there were a message received from this last thing we've been through, i would hope especially i repeat the new members of the house will understand that legislation is the art of compromise. >> now the tax cut deal is a win for the president. he pushed back pretty hard
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against house republicans who opposed the short-term extension. white house did issue a statement saying, i quote, this is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy and create new jobs. this is real money that will make a real difference in people's lives. that's the statement we got a little earlier. we are going to get another statement. we are going to hear from the president in just a bit. just over an hour from now. about 12:15 eastern time we're expengting the president to come out and make some remarks about what has happened with this two-month extension. then the president will head to meet up with his family. an event in hawaii. they went ahead and he stayed behind to finish up this work. he will be headings to hawaii to start his holiday vacation. before that he will make some comments to the american people about what just happened with this tax cut deal. 12:15 eastern you will see it right here. let's go to syria where two suicide car bombs ripped through the capitol there. look. these bomgs exploded back to back outside heavily guarded intelligence buildings.
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the blasts came one day after an arab league team arrived to monitor the government's promise to end its crackdown on protesters. the government blames the bombings on terrorists but opposition sources say the president was behind these attacks. duling demonstrations underway in egypt. the scene in tahrir square, you're seeing there protesters are demanding that the ruling military council transfer power to civilians. they're outraged over this week's brutal crackdown. elsewhere in cairo hundreds of pro-military demonstrators gathered to voice their support for the ruling party. reversal today from north korea north korea as it prepares for the funeral of its dear leader, kim jong il. it says it will accept private condolence delegations from south korea. the two countries technically are still at war. earlier in the week the secretive government announced
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that it would not accept foreign delegations. kim's funeral set for wednesday. and in new zealand a city they are already pretty spooked by deadly earthquake earlier this year getting another jolt. you see that shaking going on. you see people ducking for cover. a series of tremors hit near christchurch today. the same area hit by a powerful quake back in february. 180 people were killed in that disaster. no wonder there are people still a bit jumpy. >> pretty freaky. >> scary. watching it to make sure nothing is going to come down. >> the city's airport was closed. two people were injured. also the fda and the centers for disease control are investigating the death of a newborn baby in missouri that could be linked to infant formula. the child died of a rare
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bacterial infection. another baby also in missouri was infected but survived. the formula is the milk powder base enfamil newborn. on wednesday walmart pulled all cans of the formula with the same lot number. also denver is beginning to dig out of a major snowstorm. look at that. ten inches fell around the city in 24 hours. almost 30 inches in some of the outlying areas. >> is there a car under there? >> i didn't recognize the car when we first walked out. >> my ice scraper is this big. i had to start using my arms to shovel my car out. >> do what you've got to do. coming up a look at the weather. the storms could affect your holiday travel plans. also the russian soyuz ps spacecraft just docked at the international space station. nasa official says it carried a christmas present for the space station crew. reinforcements. three-member crew from the
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soyuz will fill out the six person capacity on that space station. six minutes past the hour now. more on that approval of the payroll tax cut extension. after another political showdown congress signed off on the two-month extension last hour after house republicans backed down so what exactly does this legislation do? most notably, as you've been hearing about, it keeps payroll taxes at the current rate of 4.2%. that means taxes will not go up for millions of americans starting january 1st. it also extends emergency unemployment benefits and it includes the so-called dock fix that delays cuts in medicare payments to doctors. congressional correspondent kate bolduan on capitol hill. i told you, nothing to worry about. >> reporter: never. never anything to worry about. you knew i never had any question in my mind. >> we say that now. we can joke now but we had to go through this exercise. a lot of americans aren't going to appreciate that. i'm sure congress may be lucky that a lot of people are worried about their holiday plans right now and weren't paying so close
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attention. this is the last taste in their mouth for 2011 from this congress. >> reporter: that's right. i think what a lot of these members were hearing when they went home is that constituents are frustrated with a dysfunctional congress and there seems to be no wonder after this drawn out battle why congress's approval rating is basically at historic lows at this moment. what happened t.j., this morning a very quick ending to a very long, drawn out battle up here over extenning this payroll tax cut. after yesterday house republican leaders, house republicans backed off their opposition to this two-month short-term extension of the payroll tax cut. it was very brief this morning. in two brief moments on the house and senate floor. it was a done deal. both passing this slightly tweaked version of this two-month extension that the senate basically, it's effectively what the senate had approved last weekend with some tweaks that are seen -- that house leaders hope that are seen as concessions to house republicans so they can win over or at least quiet opposition to
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the short-term extension. with that it heads to the president, to the white house desk -- to the white house to the president's desk. don't be fooled, we'll be right back at this soon enough as this extension only gets congress through february. >> and, kate, were these real concessions or did they justifiably realize there was a political reality here? >> a little bit of both. house speakeron boehner said there was concern over a technical problem, a technical complex reporting accounting element to the senate bill that made it -- would make it very difficult for businesses to handle dealing in reporting the tax cut extension. we don't need to get into the weeds in that. senate democratic aids say that was the first time they had raised this issue yesterday, but that being said, this had a lot to do with political pressure. as we well know and we've been talking about it. house republicans were getting heat -- were taking heat from across the board basically. the significant moments i think that really kind of broke the
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impasse, one being yesterday when the top republican in the senate came out calling on the house republicans breaking his silence, mitch mcconnell, to say it's time to back off from this opposition and cut your losses and push the short-term extension through. as well as house republicans reporting to their leaders, we hear, that when they were home only for a couple days they were hearing it from constituents. a lot of frustration that congress is so dysfunctional. so while house speaker john boehner stands firm that they don't like the two-month extension, we know that they still don't like it, he also says that it might have been the opposition that they had might have not been so smart politically. they want to not at least be facing potential bram or at least being able to be seen as being willing to allow a tax increase at this time. >> not so smart politically. that's one way to put it, kate. up on capitol hill. thank you as always. again to our viewers, just
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about an hour away. we will hear from the president. he is scheduled to make remarks on this payroll tax cut extension and the deal that was made. at 12:15 we'll bring that to you live. then he's expected to take off earlier this afternoon about 1:20 headed to hawaii to join his wife and his kids for the vacation. they got an early start. he had a little work to do back in washington. we'll have that for you live when it happens. who are the big winners and losers of the payroll tax debate? we'll ask an expert how this political posturing will impact congress and even the presidential race. also, a lot of people concerned about the weather right now. bad weather could cause some long delays for millions of you heading out for the holidays. we've got that forecast for you. also celebrities behaving, well, badly. the biggest names from a scandalous year in hollywood. also sharing the wealth from pilgrims in bethlehem. israelis and palestinians struggle over tourism money. an activist in egypt almost
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beaten to death now telling her story. >> translator: i don't know how much longer they'll continue to kill us, she says. how much longer will they continue to kill us? okay, team! after age 40, we can start losing muscle --
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all right. we know a loot of you are going to be hitting the road, hitting the skies, trying to get somewhere for the holidays. you have trouble spots out there. can they avoid them though, chad myers? some you can't avoid. this is colorado. digging out from a major storm there. in some cases you just can't avoid it, can you? >> if you're trying to get on i-10 to new mexico, they're canceled. at this point in time you're sitting waiting for the interstates to open them.
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they're plowing them but they're closed. we had snow in boulder, all the way up and down i-25. for a while it was difficult in colorado. now it's also closed in new mexico. they're having a very difficult time. the department of transportation is not on twitter, facebook, they don't have a great website. we're trying to call them. they're not answering their phone. they're busy trying to get the roads clear. it's still snowing, t.j. you have to take this. a lot of people, i mean, from houston, from dallas take i-10 across to their loved ones in santa fe, into phoenix. all the way from albuquerque down. that's the trouble spot. there will be other trouble spots but it will be more wet than white. this will be a wet christmas in a lot of the southeast and even up in parts of the northeast. could be wet on sunday as we get here. travel troubles because you're going to need windshield wipers. no real significant airport delays. there may be some delays across atlanta airport because of low clouds and rainful. that always happens.
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you can get 30 minutes delayed, but not like last night when there were thousands of planes that didn't make it in and out of atlanta on time. people were stranded. they spent the night at the airport. christmas eve, not bad. go through it again. christmas day, there it is again. some flurries into the northwest. flurries above about 5,000 feet. couple flurries in the central part of the great lakes valley as well. other than that we're in great shape. this will be the easiest travel weekend that i have seen in many, many years for christmas. except right now with the travel problems in new mexico and parts of west texas. >> one of the easiest you've seen? >> absolutely. no question about it. one of the least weather affected travel seasons i've ever seen for christmas. >> that's huge. >> yeah, it is. >> we had this graphic up. i've heard you talk through this graphic before. all the planes that are in the sky. i'm fascinated when we see this thing. >> 5900 planes in the air right now. you know what the good news is? >> i'm listening. >> those planes aren't that big.
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we would never see the sun. they are going from place to place. most cases today on time. i do have an airport delay for you, 15 minutes at laguardia. about 1:05 at newark liberty. you have an hour plane in and out. every plane is delayed about an hour. even though you won't miss your connections, you may be delayed. houston for 30 minutes. those are increasing because of some clouds. >> thank you. let's go on since we are talking about air travel. holly is at atlanta's heart field jackson international airport. the busiest that we have. is it living up to that billing so far? >> reporter: not today, t.j. if you look behind me, it's kind of empty. it's actually business as usual here. they were expecting heavy holiday travel. they're used to getting about 243,000 passengers through atlanta's airport every day. so today's really no different. only the scenery's changed. instead of business travelers
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we're seeing more families with packages going on holiday vacations. so maybe a few more smiles than normal. as chad mentioned, what a difference a day makes. yesterday was kind of a nightmare for a lot of people. people were stranlded, missed connections. some people couldn't even get into the airport because of the heavy thunder storms we had. so a lot of people today in atlanta were concerned that the airport might be a mess so they got here early. we talked to a couple of those people this morning. >> it's been fine so far. we got in fine. it's been good so far. >> i expected it, but i heard in the news that air flights are down 10%. people are not flying as much this holiday season. i expect it to not be as crowded. it's not crowded so it's great. >> reporter: so it's been pretty good for a lot of people. one guy we met about 4:30 this morning, i was chatting with him. i said, what time's your flight. he said 10:15. what are you doing here so early? i didn't know. i wanted to be safe.
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i would imagine he's well on his way to his destination. >> so far so good. we're going to be checking in with you more. we'll see if things continue to look like that. thank you as always. we're about eight minutes past the hour. talking about the holiday here. you'll get gifts, giving gifts. it's just the thought that counts, right? but, if it comes with a gift receipt, all the better. the national retail federation says americans will set a record this year for the value of gifts they'll return after the holidays. how much money do you think we're talking about here? $26 billion in returns? $36 billion? $46 billion? i'm going to tell you in a moment. stay with me. 10 years. wow. wow. but you can help fight muscle loss with exercise and ensure muscle health. i've got revigor. what's revigor? it's the amino acid metabolite, hmb to help rebuild muscle and strength naturally lost over time. [ female announcer ] ensure muscle health has revigor and protein to help protect, preserve,
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20 minutes past the hour now. a lot of people return gifts after the holidays. we were asking how much do you think americans will be returning this year? 26, 36, or $46 billion? would you believe it's c? it's expected we'll return a record-breaking $46 billion worth of gifts this year. why go through all of that trouble shopping for you for? some best buy shoppers may find some coal in their christmas shopping instead of electronics. the retailer, listen to this, is canceling some holiday online orders just days before christmas. the company says it has run out of some of its hottest items because of the overwhelming demand at bestbuy.com. alison kosik at the new york stock exchange. that's why your gift might not arrive. best buy canceled it on me so it might not show up. i apologize. how are you doing on the news?
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>> talk about major disappointment. >> yes. >> that would be major disappointment zwl it would. >> how's it looking here? we're talking over each other. that delay is a little funky. i'll go ahead. it's looking a lot like christmas here on wall street. i'll tell you why. few people are trading at this point. i think everybody's out christmas shopping for gifts. they're certainly not buying stocks in mass still. we did get some economic reports here on wall street today. they are keeping stocks in the green right now. just so you know, if you're keeping track, we have another five days left for trading here on wall street. the s&p 500 is virtually unchanged from the beginning of the year. the 401 ks track the s&p 500. all those ups and downs, it's like they never happened. >> and you got good news on the home front to wrap up the year as well? >> yes. happy holidays home buyers or refinancers. mortgage rates, they hit a record low.
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check out where they are. 3.91% for a 30-year fixed. going to show you what it means in dollars and cents. if you have a $200,000 mortgage. at the beginning of the year say you were paying 4.81, you're able to get 3.91, if you refinance that means you'll save $106 a month. more good news, these low rates are expected to stay low for a while. those mortgage rates, they're tied to ten year treasuries. that yield on the treasury bond is low because more people are parking their money into treasury bonds because treasury bonds are seen as a safe haven in these uncertain times. they're certainly not parking their money in stocks these days, although once again we are in the green right now. >> all right. alison kosik, thank you. as always. 23 minutes past the hour we're now under an hour away from hearing from president obama going to be making some remarks from the white house about that payroll tax cut extension, the deal that was just struck, and the house and the senate acting today passing that measure.
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now the president's going to sign it so your taxes will not go up at the beginning of the year, but this fight has to happen again in 60 days. it's on a two-month extension. still, for the time being that's what we've got. we'll have the president for you live when he does step out here in just under an hour. this whole fight back and forth vgs this was a political gamble by house republicans. they pay the price for this fight? we're talking about the winners and the losers. stay with me. back then, he had something more important to do. he wasn't focused on his future but fortunately, somebody else was. at usaa we provide retirement solutions for our military, veterans and their families. from investments... to life insurance... to health care options. learn more with our free usaa retirement guide. call 877-242-usaa. see? he's taking his vitamins. new one a day vitacraves plus omega-3 dha is a complete multivitamin for adults.
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as we get close to the bottom of the hour, now here's a rundown of some of the stories we're working on. the battle of the payroll tax cut is over but the political fallout will be felt through november. a brave woman who was beaten
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when she came to the rescue of another egyptian protester. she talks to us from her hospital bed. then a little later thousands head to bethlehem for the holidays. behind the scenes there's a fight brewing over their tourist dollars. meanwhile, something else keeping an eye on. the white house, expectsing to hear from the president just over 45 minutes from now making comments before he heads off to be with his family in hawaii for their christmas break. he'll be speaking on what we saw happen today, extending the two-month payroll tax cut extension. you've been seeing the show down. it appears to be over. the president will sign that before he heads out of town. also, you're going to hear from that egyptian protester. have you heard the story yet? some of the video is incredible and tough to watch. she was viciously beaten by military police on the streets of cairo. she is talking to us from her hospital bed. hear her story. stay with us.
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all right. took a bit of political wrang link but congress today approved a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. the action came after house speaker john boehner backed off his opposition to a short term deal approved by the senate. that cleared the way for the house and senate to approve the deal by a procedure known as unanimous consents since a lot of the lawmakers have gone home
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for the holidays. it means taxes won't go up for 160 million of us come january. the fight over the payroll tax cut extension was the latest political standoff in washington. who are the winners and losers in this battle? house speaker john boehner admits his political calculations might have been a little bit off here. >> might have not been the smartest thing in the world, but i'm going to tell you what, i think our members waged a good fight. we were able to come to an agreement. we were able to fix what came out of the senate. >> let's talk about this now. who gets benefits here? who gets hurt by all of this in the showdown? larry is director of the center for politics at the university of virginia. everybody's looking at john boehner and saying, hey, this did not go well for him. do you see any group out there that might have looked at speaker boehner and thought he was doing the right thing and he won some favor with? >> well, i think speaker boehner knew better.
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remember, his original instinct was to do what senate leader, republican leader mitch mcconnell already knew was the only thing to do, which was to accept this two-month extension as the best possible outcome in this pre-holiday period. boehner took that back to the house caucus and he had a rebellion among these first-term, very rambunctious tea party freshmen. they forced him into this to a certain degree and, of course, now as the leader of the caucus he has to bear some of the blame. i do think he knew better. >> it sounds like he even admitted that to an extent yesterday. down the road are americans going to remember this come election season or are democrats going to make sure they remind voters of this whole fiasco? >> well, the democrats certainly will remind people of it. look, the president had, yes, a short-term victory, a tactical victory, but it was also a near complete victory. he hasn't had many of those with
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respect to the republican house over the last year. if he wants to crow at 12:15, he's entitled to it. but what really matters is what happens with the extension in february. this agreement only lasts until february and then it's already obvious that unless the republicans want to commit suicide politically, they will agree some way or another to a full year extension of the payroll tax cut. how they do it, how quickly they do it, whether they whine while doing it, whether there's another big political fight that makes the headlines that gives obama and the democrats opportunities to barb their brains in again, that's what matters. >> president obama play this pretty well? >> he played it very well. he was given a gift by the house republicans, at least these freshmen. one wonders whether those house freshmen have learned anything. we'll find out in february. >> we'll find out in february. it sounds like if all goes well in february people might forget about this exercise we just went
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through here at the end of the year. so what was the point of the exercise anyway? this was between boehner and republicans. it sounds like there's no real winner, no real loser here. we put ourselves through this for what? >> well, we'll have to see, again, what happens in february. there could be long-term winners and losers from it. in terms of the optics of the situation, in terms of the election year positioning, democrats got a real boost out of it. president obama got a real boost out of it. it means that if this same difficulty arises when the extension comes up in two months, people are going to automatically instinctively blame the republicans, especially the house republicans. that's not a good position to be in as you approach negotiations. >> all right. sounds like you're saying it all depends on what happens after this 60 days in the beginning of the year. this gets us through the holidays at least. you enjoy your holidays. thanks so much. good to see you as always. >> you too.
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35 minutes past the hour and we're just about 40 minutes away from hearing from president obama expected to make comments at 12:15 eastern time. live from the white house you will be able to see those here. he is speaking about this payroll tax cut extension before he heads off to meet up with his family in hawaii for the holiday. it is that time of year. many americans reflect on things they have in their lives despite the on stackless. this week's human factor dr. sanjay gupta introduces us to a guy who's an inspiring reminder that despite challenges we can achieve remarkable things. >> i'm zach and doing my own travel show is a dream come true for me. >> reporter: growing up zach always knew he wanted to work in film. >> it was always whatever you want to do we can find a way to do it. >> reporter: nowadays he lives in austin and spends his days writing, editing, and
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brainstorming with his production and support team. his friends. the rest of the country didn't know who zach was, and then he decided to enter a contest and become oprah winfrey's next tv talk show star. >> how old were you when you figured out that you were different than the other kids? >> i knew that i had a wheelchair obviously. they didn't shield that from me. >> reporter: as a result of the contest, oprah gave zach his own travel show airing on the own network. it's called rolling with zach. >> now i'm exploirg the country, taking you along for the ride. >> reporter: rolling with life's obstacles is just what zach does. >> taking life as it comes and whatever you run into, you just learn to roll with it. >> reporter: zach has cerebral palsy. it's a neurological disorder that affects the brain's ability to control body movements. his condition has never stopped him from doing what he wants to do. >> everybody has problems, what i always say. mine are no bigger than anyone
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else's. and i think that's the message that i want to get across. what i've got to deal with is really small in the scheme of things. >> reporter: zach gives his family a lot of credit for not dwelling on his disability. his tv show doesn't either. he hopes some day to be an inspiration to others. >> i would say to anybody who feels really like they're bogged down by obstacles, really think of who you are without those and imagine yourself doing what you love to do because that'll drive you to do things you never thought you were capable of. >> it's getting dangerous. i'm getting really soaked. >> reporter: dr. sanjay gupta, cnn reporting. she has been brutally beaten but not silenced. the woman in red there being kicked and beaten. she's been beaten by egyptian
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you're welcome. hey, hank. [ male announcer ] life insurance you can use while you're still living. you are one lucky lady. mm-hmm. [ male announcer ] learn more from your state farm agent today. well, egypt's tahrir square again packed with protesters. they're unrelenting in their
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demand for the country's military leaders to hand power to civilian rule. we're live in cairo. mohammed, hello to you. give us the update about what we are seeing right now in the square. >> reporter: hello, t.j. actually, just right behind me there's tahrir square, the epicenter of the revolution. thousands of people are gathered there. they've come out today in part because of the outrage that they're expressing towards the military council here, the ruling military council, for all of the abuse and beatings that have been suffered by demonstrators in the past week at the hands of riot police and security forces. a lot of these beatings have been captured on tape. the people that came out today have been chanting a common refrain that you hear in tahrir square, down with military rule. they want to see a civilian government put into place here leading this country as soon as possible. they want the supreme council of the armed forces, this is the government that stepped in when hosni mubarak was ousted.
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we should add also in another part of town there were thousands of people out today in support of the military, in support of the supreme council of the armed forces. they were holding up placards saying no to destruction. they believe the military council is really the only buffer as far as this country not facing destruction. they believe that the protesters are bringing ruin upon egypt. >> mohammed, also the video is just so disturbing of that female activist being brutally beaten. you had a chance to talk to her. what is she saying and how is she doing? >> reporter: t.j., the first day we went to see her in the hospital she was in agony. she was screaming out in pain. she couldn't talk to us. doctors were really worried about if she would improve. we went to see her yesterday, had an exclusive interview with her. she's doing a lot better. she's still clearly in agony, very much in pain. she wanted to tell her story.
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>> reporter: today she's feeling better. despite the severe beating she stayed just days ago, she's eager to talk. >> translator: there's no justice, she says. i don't know how long we'll go without justice. we didn't ask for anything more than to be free in our own country. we've been oppressed by the military, by the supreme council of the armed forces, and by the police. >> reporter: she has reason to be angry. during a crackdown in cairo's tahrir square the 48-year-old activist was rushed by riot police. seen her in a red jacket she was trying to help a wounded woman when she was pushed to the ground. then began the merciless barrage. she sustained multiple blows to the head, suffered two fractures
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to the skull. >> translator: i don't know how much longer they'll continue to kill us, she says. how much longer will they continue to kill us? >> reporter: she isn't sure how long it will take for her to recover, but her condition today is visibly better than a day earlier. then she couldn't even talk to us. whaling in agony and crying for help. today she wonders what will happen to her homeland and even though her late father was a general in egypt's army, she can't fathom the tactics security forces are currently using against protesters. >> translator: my family isn't like the men in the military now, she says. my family was very decent and pure. what's happening in the military now is dirty. humans without conscious or mercy or humanity. what right do they have to do this to people? >> reporter: despite the pain she endures and the uncertainty
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she feels, she remains defiant. >> translator: i don't know what will happen tomorrow, she says, but i know that we will not remain silent. we won't abandon our rights. we won't leave this country in the devastated condition it's in. >> reporter: t.j., the egyptian military says it isn't aware of her case but will look into it. a military official says, quote, if she comes from a military family, she reserved the right to be transferred to a military hospital even if her father is deceased. in addition the supreme council of the armed forces has expressed its quote great regret to the great women of egypt for the violations that took place. at a quarter of the top of the hour we'll turn back to presidential politics in this country. mitt romney getting a big endorsement from a former president. yeah. it's a big blow to the gingrich camp. then a whole lot more in your political ticker. every month brings hormonal changes,
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about 12 minutes to the top of the hour now. newt gingrich worked side by side with george h.w. bush back in the early '90s. look at that picture. that doesn't mean the former president wants to see gingrich in the white house. joe johns live from the political desk in washington. joe, does this have to hurt a little bit for newt gingrich?
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i don't think joe johns can hear. he lost his ifb. we'll get back to that. the story we've been telling you here is that, in fact, yet, mitt romney has picked up that endorsement of former president george herbert walker bush. see what that means. this one gets a lot of attention for good reason. i'm told now joe johns is ready now. everything all right in d.c.? >> yeah. my ifb went crazy on me. it's supposed to happen, t.j. it's our last ticker on cnn. >> is this it? >> something had to go wrong. i think so. for me and you. >> this is it. it's washington, d.c. crazy things happen. yes, even ifbs are susceptible to some of the badness in d.c. >> let's talk about this endorsement. it's not a formal endorsement, right? you get the message the the first president bush thinks romney is the guy that needs to get the nomination. he said in a newspaper interview
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he thinks that romney is the best choice. it's no surprise that the former president would back someone other than newt gingrich. this goes all the way back to 1990. this is, you know, light years ago in politics. when newt gingrich was in the house minority president bush was trying to get a deal on the budget even though phrase "read my lips -- no new taxes." a lot of us remember that. democrats demanded increases on existing taxes, and after a big fight, bush reluctantly decided he was going to go for it. bush said he thought newt gingrich had sign on to the 1990 budget deal, but when it was time to go out into the rose garden with everybody and announce it -- gingrich was not there. so former president bush said, he's not newt gingrich's biggest advocate and he is getting behind mitt romney. >> paybacks after all these years sometimes. joe johns, we have to leave it there, i'm told. but i've been a fan of yours a
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long time. i'm not done talking to you. we will continue our friendship. >> stay in touch. >> thanks so much. coming up in 25 minutes from d.c., president obama from the white house going to talking about that payroll tax cut extension. we will have that for you live when he does step out. winning. you all remember charlie sheen's meltdown? also kim kardashian's wedding. and lindsay lohan and all her court appearances. 2011 has been a banner year for celebrity scandals. to get us caught up once again, our entertainment correspondent kareen wynter. >> reporter: no, charlie, thank you for making 2011 a winning year in celebrity news. he put on his awesome display of erratic behavior. on the web and in interviews. most memorably with abc news.
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>> can't is the cancer of happen. >> he was spewing just this absolute crazy, awesome just nonsense to anyone who would listen. >> reporter: he insisted he was not addicted to drugs. sheen's verbal spree cape in the midst of an epic feud with his bosses at "two and a half men," a dispute that eventually got him fired. by refusing to bow to his employers or convention, he turn himself into something of a folk hero, at least in his own mind. >> every great movement begins with one man and i guess that's me. he called his violent torpedo of truth earned as many boos as cheers. in the fall, "two and a half men" officially killed off sheen's character. >> charlie lived life to its
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fullest. >> reporter: rebuilding the show around ashton kutcher. >> it can't be that bad. >> it could be. you don't know. >> reporter: ashton kutcher soon found himself in the headlines, but for other reasons. tabloids declared his marriage to demi moore was on the rocks and sure enough in november, she revealed it was over. photos of demi seemed to show the toll it was taking on her. >> she just seemed so frail, so upset, so heartbroken. >> reporter: the losing streak didn't enwith ashton and demi. in august kim kardashian tied the knot with nba player kris humphreys. but just 72 days later kardashian announced the marriage was over leaving some of her fans feeling the whole thing had been a publicity stunt. >> people are really upset. they really do feel duped and you can't really blame them. >> reporter: lindsay lohan spent most of her year walking in and out of court. in january she was accused of
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stealing a necklace from a jewelry store. she compounded her problems by failing to keep up with court ordered community service. that earned her a stern rebuke from a judge who ridiculed lohan from the bench. >> i mean she is supposed to be an actress, from what i hear. >> reporter: by year's end lohan was back on o track with her community service and even landed work in the pages of playboy. between the charlies, the lindseys, kims and all the best, it was a banner year for the famous. >> celebrities really brought their "a" game in 2011. can we get a break in 2012? >> kareen wynter, hollywood. it all happened in a little town called bethlehem. as the tourists flock in for the christmas holiday, it is turning out to be anything but a silent night there. just to be able to wake up in the morning on your own.
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as we get close to the top of the hour, you know it is the season for tourism in bethlehem. for many palestinian tourism officials, the good cheer's fading pretty fast. kevin flower explains why. >> reporter: it is not hard to tell it is the holiday season in bethlehem. a giant tree stands in the center of manger square and all around the sights and sounds of christmas can be found in abundance. at the nearby church of the
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nativity built at the site where christians believe jesus was born, visitors around the world gather for this important stop in their religious pilgrimage. they are among the over 1 million christian pilgrims who come to the holyland each year an represent the fastest growing sector in the tourism industry. while the number of tourists visiting bethlehem is up compared to last year, palestinian tourism officials say it is hard to get them to spend their money here fighting what they say is stiff an unfair competition from israel. this is the palestinian minister of tourism. she says israel uses its control of the holy land gateways -- airports, ports and land crossings -- to unfairly direct tourists toward spending more time at religious sites under israeli control. >> we still have 5% of the revenue, 90% is spent on the israeli side. this is a very unfair
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distribution i believe, because they use us only as a bridge to develop tourism into israel. >> reporter: israeli tourism officials down play that criticism saying increased tourism benefits both sides and that locations like bethlehem are an integral part of a religious experience here which also includes sites in israel like naz rareth and the sea of galilee. >> we are developing areas which we have control of but we have no problem with people go backwards and forwards with those two or three locations. >> reporter: back in manger square, this merchant says there are enough tourists coming through bethlehem, but the problem is getting them to stay. >> most of the groups they come to bethlehem five minutes inside the church, then they take them to the big shops where they get the commission. guys and bus drivers, 40% commission. >> reporter: he says he and
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other merchants are deeply discouraged and that both zerls and palestinians need to do more to help bethlehem live up to its biblical potential. >> a christmas wish shared by the residents of this little west bank town. kevin flower, cnn, bethlehem. hello to you all. we are at the top of the hour. i'm t.j. holmes. it appears it is a done deal. after a republican revolt and a republican retreat, the house today approved a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. we will hear from the president on this agreement soon. we are expecting to hear from him in 15 minutes, 12:15 eastern time. we'll take you to those comments. it keeps payroll taxes at the current rate of 4.2%. that means your taxes will not go up starting january 1st.
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it also extends emergency unemployment benefits and also includes the so-called doc fix that delays cuts in medicare payments to doctors. we have a squad today covering this one for you. wolf blitzer in washington, also our candy crowley, we've got kate bolduan up on the hill for us, and also jessica yellin in her perch over at the white house. wolf, let me start with you. who's taking the hit here? we've been talking winners and losers. can they be confined to republicans? house republicans or maybe just john boehner taking a big hit? >> well, the big hit for john boehner, because he's the leader of the house republicans and he himself acknowledges this was not their finest political hour. big winner of course is the 160 million americans who are going to at least for the next two months and presumably for the rest of next year, are going to continue to have this payroll tax cut in effect. it is going to save the average family at least $1,000 for the year, maybe $1,500 a year if they make $75,000 a year.
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the other big winners are all of those unemployed individuals who will continue to get their benefit from nearly 3 million people, continue to get their benefits as of january 1st. a lot of decisions, doctors out there who help medicare patients, they were going to have to take about a 25% pay cut if this deal would not have been struck. they'll continue to get their current fees which is good for medicare recipients because you don't want doctors moving out of this entire medicare system. so the big winner is the american public. politically the big loser right now, house republicans, the speaker. but they'll get over it. people will move on. right now the fight has to continue in the next two months to make sure that all of these provisions remain in effect for the rest of the year, and that's why they've established this conference committee, house-senate conference committee to work out all the details. the president won't be gloating or anything like that. but a little bit of a victory lap before he heads off to meet up with his family in hawaii for
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the christmas-new year's vacation. >> wolf, he didn't have to try that hard, some would tell you. some people refer to it as republicans gave him a gift for christmas. he really didn't have to do a lot of political posturing or anything here. he let them do their thing and he got the benefit. >> yeah. just ask the editorial writers at the "wall street journal" or some conservative critics out there, including some conservatives in the senate. this was a gift that the president received from the house republicans and i think a lot of the house republicans acknowledge this right now. so they have their work cut out for them in the week and months ahead but it was a political gift, i don't think there's any doubt about that. in the end the republican leadership in the house of representatives had to blink, accept the compromise that was passed, 89-10 in the senate, not just with john mccain and mitch mcconnell but even tea party favorites like marco rubio of florida. they all voted for it. and in the end the house had to vote for it as well. they got all of it done this morning within a matter of
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minutes which only shows you, t.j., that where there's a will, there's a way despite all those procedural road blocks. if they want to do something quickly in the senate and the house, they can do it. >> fight for months and in ten minutes this thing was wrapped up today. waffle, thank you. jessica yellin is at the white house expecting to hear from the president? just over ten minutes or so. jessica, not necessarily expecting him to gloat, but still the president's not just going to say merry christmas, peace on earth, good will towards men. >> no, i think wolf is right, you will see a bit of a victory lap from the president and he'll probably call it a victory for the american people, if not exactly in those words, that's how the white house will try to characterize it and we're expecting the president, will say either that he just has or he will sign a payroll tax cut that will make sure that the american people's taxes don't go
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up at the beginning of the year and then head off on to hawaii where his wife and kids have been waiting for him just in time to celebrate christmas. you just heard wolf talk about it and we talked about it all day yesterday how this is both a real political gift for the president and right on the policy for the white house heading into an election year. but i would also highlight that come the new year, the fight will be back on because we have already seen the republicans, especially in the senate, signal that they will bring the fight to the president over an element of this bill which includes a fight over that keystone pipeline which is in here forcing the president to make a decision on this controversial issue about pipeline that would bring natural -- that would bring some gas into the u.s. and it's something that environmentalists and labor unions are on either side of and they're also going to fight the president on his economic policy and they still have to extend
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the payroll tax cut and what is going to be on the table as they try to extend that. so there will be new fights to be had in the new year, t.j. >> looking forward to it. jessica yellin, there at the white house expecting to hear from the president in about ten minutes. let me head to kate bolduan on capitol hill for us. we have been talking about it took months and months of back and forth, political wrangling and fighting, then in ten minutes they wrapped this thing up for the most part. so what happened to get everybody on the same page? were there concessions that had to be made necessarily or essentially just kafg to a political reality? >> well, i think that the biggest factor in all of this was the pressure. and i know that all of us have been talking about it. the pressure was mounting and mounting but really it just seemed to be the kind of straw that broke the camel's back really in terms of house republicans giving in. house speaker john boehner yesterday says that they fought a good fight.
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they still don't like the two-month extension but he acknowledged that the opposition to this two-month extension and kind of how they maybe painted themselves in a corner here was probably not the smartest thing politically. why do you ask is that not smart politically? because there was real concern that it threatens -- that they threaten then by not allowing this extension to go through, by not agreeing to a deal to compromise, they would be painted as allowing a tax increase to happen going into the new year, going into an elect year and that is not a narrative, as we like to say, that any republican would like to have kind of on their house leadership. so it was really the pressure coming from all corners, especially kind of a real significant moment yesterday was when the top republican in the senate, mitch mcconnell, came out while calling it a compromise that both sides will have to give a little here, he basically came out and broke with house speaker john boehner and said it is time to give in, cut your losses, let's get through this. that's really kind of where
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things stood. we are seeing today this wrapped up very quickly. that's kind of the way things typically happen around here. battle is caustic an contentious and when they finally come to an agreement, you wash your hand of it, walk away and it is done in a few short minutes. but as jessica noted, this extension only goes through february and we're already seeing some statements from house leadership members like kevin mccarthy coming out after this house vote accusing senate democrats of playing politics here. we're going to here this kind of pick up once again after the new year and it will be a new battle we'll be watching and we'll just see how partisan it is and if anyone learned a lesson here as their approval rating continues to be in the tank. >> kate, oh, so hopeful that someone will have learned a lesson here as we bring wolf blitzer back in. wolf, as far as the political fallout for next year in the election, it appears it all depends on what happens at the end of the two-month extension.
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if they can or can't work something out to extend this for the rest of the year. >> they will almost certainly work something out to extend it for the rest of the year. going into a political season, there's little doubt that either side can afford to have, in effect, a tax increase on the 160 million working americans. neither side can really afford to allow nearly 3 million americans to lose their unemployment benefits and neither side is going to want to upset these doctors and medicare recipients going into an election year. just as they manage to finesse it this time, i'm sure over the next two months they'll finesse it. they've already named the house and senate conferrees, the represents who are going to negotiate it. it will probably take -- let me bring candy crowley into this conversation. it will probably take all of two months, i suspect, at the end of february, candy, we're going to be going through the same panicky drill before they come up with a deal.
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that's the nature of the beast, shall we say. >> yes. and remember that this was clearly a political defeat for republicans. it is clearly a victory for president obama who, from the time this fight started to now, has gone up in the polls. we have him basically nearing the 50% rank and he hasn't been there for a while. so it is very clear on the political point, the house lost and john boehner said as much yesterday in his speech when he said, listen, we're going to go for this compromise. every battle, even if it is over the same thing, has a different dynamic. so when they come up to this next battle, they won't have to worry about whether small businesses won't be able to deal with the paperwork. what they're going to fight over is what they've been fighting over for a year-and-a-half, and that is, how are you going to pay for this? it is going to get back to, do you want to raise taxes on the rich which republicans have always rejected, or is there
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another place in the budget that can be cut. so this basic battle, the framework of this battle is how does the government cut costs and what does it do about taxes ov . over the next 12 months that's what we'll be talking about, the first 11 being the most important months because those are the ones that lead up to the election. >> there is no doubt though, candy, in an election year almost always really getting substantive major legislation through congress is probably not going to happen. they'll finesse it, but in terms of major tax reform or major cuts in spending, that's probably not going to happen next year. >> no, no, not during an election year because these are contentious issues. this is social security. this is medicare. this has to do with tax reform which republicans have been pushing for. so yes, they will find some sort of band-aid, put things on it. but they still have to pass budgets. they still have to figure out how to keep the government
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funded when the next fiscal year comes up. so there is that that's going to happen. we have the bush tabs cuts that expire at the end of the year. my guess is they'll punt that until after the election, but nonetheless, there are issues that are going to come up and there is no money to spend so the big fights aren't going to be about new programs. they could be about taxes and about spending but you're right, nothing major. i don't think you'll see huge reform happening next year on these contentious issues. >> we'll wait for 2013, see what happens in november 2012. everyone, stand by for a moment. we are waiting for the president of the united states to walk into the briefing room, make a statement. we'll see if he answers reporters' questions. he should have answer reporters' questions because this is the white house briefing room where he's making this statement. a lot of reporters are sitting there. they'll want to answer questions. let's hope he sticks around, answers a if you questions before he heads to the backyard, the south lawn, gets on marine
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one, flies over to andrews air force one to meet up with his family in hawaii for christmas and new year's. our coverage continues here in the cnn news rom after this. honey, check your email! [ cellphone chimes ] [ cat yodeling ] kids! [ cat yodeling ] sing, larry, sing! [ cat yodeling ] we should have got a cat. [ male announcer ] get low prices on gifts to stay connected. order your last-minute gifts at walmart-dot-com and get free same-day pickup on select items. save money. live better. walmart. multi-policy discount. paperless discount. paid-in-full discount. [yawning] homeowner's discount. safe driver discount. chipmunk family reunion. someone stole the nuts. squirrel jail.
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quarter past the hour now. live picture there from the white house, expecting the president to step up at any moment and make comments before he heads out on his vacation about this two-month extension, this deal that was reached finally after much back and forth, and much coverage. finally it was a political
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reality from republicans in the house, particularly speaker boehner, there was no other option here, this had to happen. at some point, wolf, did the american public stop paying attends to the back and forth and the process? seems like we see this time and time again where we are taken right up to the brink in washington. >> you know, it underscores -- that's a great point, t.j. it underscores why the american public does not approve of the way congress does its business. in our most recent cnn/orc poll, only 16% -- 16% -- say they approve of the way congress does its business. a gallup/cbs poll had to closer to 11% or 12% approve of the way congress does its business. one of the reasons is because of the spectacle we've seen over the past week or two where it passes overwhelmingly this compromise in the senate, 89-10. most of the republicans on board. most of the democrats -- almost all of the democrats on board. then they thought they had a
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deal and everybody was going to move on, have the real fight over the next two months. but of course it collapses in the house. one thing we should be looking towards in the coming weeks and months, how much of a revolt will the speaker, john boehner, face within his own ranks. a lot of tea party supporter, conservatives, how angry are they going to be at him for blinking, if you will, to the democrats' demands right now, in effect embarrassing them. they went all-in this week railing against this two-month extension saying how awful it would be, that small businesses would not be able to go forward and do their payrolls and stuff like that, all of a sudden they all had to capitulate to it and go ahead with this unanimous consent degree that went through the house of representatives within a matter of minutes earlier today. so it is embarrassing for a lot of these folks. we'll see if boehner faces a certain revolt from within his own ranks in the coming weeks and months. >> i'm going to go to jessica yellin who was in that room for
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us. i know the president might walk in at any moment, but jessica yellin at the white house for us. we expect comments from the president at any moment. we were told at 12:15 eastern time. hi behind the scenes they are neat going to come out and say, yes, we're loving this fight, it gives us a political advantage. but behind the scenes, people you talked to up there, they didn't mind letting the republicans do what he they did over the past couple of days and weeks. >> i'd say that there is a combination. there was a lot of anxiety in fact and astonishment that this is happening, to be honest, t.j., because they couldn't believe that this -- the republicans had gotten themselves into this kind of a bind because the politics, a, were just simply so good for the president, to be frank about it, and also it was so unthinkable that anybody would let this payroll tax cut lapse because american workers would be just outraged if this money was in the in their paychecks and on
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the other hand, it would also be, by many economists' assessment, so detrimental to the economy that who in washington would want to be held responsible for that? so there was a great deal of anxiety here because the president ultimately is held responsible for the economy. so if this payroll tax cut hadn't been extended, the president would have ultimately taken some blame if the economy were in worst shape next quarter as a result of inaction by congress. so huge sigh of relief here when this did happen last night and, yes, some extreme astonishment that the republican house got themselves into this pickle, and for the president, the politics couldn't have turned out better at the end of the year. now the question is how do they get this done, how do they negotiate with john boehner in the new year to extend the payroll tax cut for another year
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given that his hand is that much more -- is that much weakened with his own conference after this debacle at the end of this year. you know, they have to figure out how to extend this for another year. as wolf says, it will no doubt happen, but he has to figure out how to get it done, and that will probably be an ugly mess come the new year. >> jessica, thank you. we'll let you get in place. we are waiting for the president any moment. while we do, wolf, let's pick up on the point jessica was making there. how does the president now play this at the beginning of the year and this is another indication of once you give people a tax cut, people will have a hard time remembering now but your taxes were set at 6.2%. it was the payroll tax cut. this is still a holiday, an extension of a holiday, if you will, and until the economy turns back around, it is going to tough to convince americans that now it is time to go back to the rate you were at a year or two years ago. >> right. the republicans themselves, by and large, have themselves to
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blame for this because they've already always made the point even a temporary tax cut is a tracks increase and you don't want any tax hikes or tax increases. the bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 saw that top rate go down from 39.6% to 36%, 35%. that was a temporary cut. it was supposed to be in there for ten years but you know what? that's how it passed. but if you let it go back to the tax rates that existed during the clinton administration, republicans see that as a tax increase and you remember the famous words -- no new taxes. in effect, this would be a new tabs. you're absolutely right. once you pass a tax cut, even if you say it is a tax holiday for a year, even if you say it is just a cut temporarily and candy crowley knows this better than most -- it is very har in this day and age, given the hatred for taxes out there, especially
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among conservatives and republicans who think the government has more than enough money, they need to cut spending, they don't need to raise taxes. it is very hard to go ahead and let that tax cut lapse. >> well, and you also have economists saying in this particular moment, you're right, nobody likes tax increases. ask walter mondale who basically lost an election on a number of things but he said, look, i'm going to raise your taxes. it is not a winning platform. but beyond that, in this particular time, economists are saying you raise taxes now it will hurt the economy. so until the economy gets stronger, they still can have these economists saying it is a bad thing to do. so there are many, many reasons why tax increases, even if they're a returning to normal rate, it is no longer the normal rate. once you give a tax cut, people assume that's what their taxes are so it is very, very hard to do. >> several economists point the
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out that if this payroll tax cut were to lapse right now or if the unemployment benefits were to lapse, that would have a drag on economic growth next year and that's the last thing president obama politically wants to see, any lag in the economic growth. he wants to see things moving in the right direction because politically that will help him in his re-election chances as opposed to if there were a decline further, dramatic decline in the economic situation. everyone stand by for a moment. we'll continue our special coverage. we're waiting for the president. looks like they're getting ready over there at the white house. our coverage will continue in the "cnn newsroom" right after this. [ older brother ] hey, that's the last crescent. [ younger brother ] oh, do you want it? yeah. ok, we'll split it. [ female announcer ] made fresh, so light... ...buttery and flaky... this is half. that is not half. guys i have more.
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[♪...] >> male announcer: book now, save up to 65%. call 1-800-sandals. 25 minutes past the hour now. president just a few minutes
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behind schedule, what we were expecting at 12:15 eastern time we are still expecting the president at any moment making some comments about that two-month payroll tax cut extension, that deal that was just reached. president signing that before he heads out of town. he'll be meeting up with his family in hawaii for the christmas holiday season. when the president does step out again, expect that at any moment we'll have those comments for you live. get you caught up on other thins going on right now, dueling demonstrations under way in egypt. tahrir square here, protesters demanding that the ruling military council transfer power to civilians. the crowd is outraged over this week's brutal crackdown with more than a dozen protesters were killed and many more wounded. elsewhere in cairo, hundreds of pro-military demonstrators gathered to voice support for the ruling body. the u.s. is offering a $10 million reward for information leading to the man you're seeing there. alleged al qaeda financier al suri. he recruits across into iran and
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pakistan for al qaeda's senior leadership. he's accused of accepting money from donors throughout the gulf. new zealand getting another jolt. they were ducking for cover as a series of tremors hit near christ church today. it is the same area hit by a powerful quake in february. 180 people killed in that disaster. people still a little jumpy. >> pretty freaky. >> quite scary. yeah. watching the ceiling making sure nothing's going to come down. >> the city's ampt was closed. at least two people were injured. in denver starting to dig out of a major snowstorm there. ten inches of snow in 24 hours. 30 inches in some of the outlying areas.
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>> their car is under there? >> my ice scraper is like this big. i had to start using my arms to shovel my car out. >> little later, a look at whether these storms are going to affect your holiday travel plans. no doubt they will affect some folks out there. also russia's soyuz spacecraft has docked at the international space station. >> flawless approach and docking. >> nasa official says the soyuz carried up christmas presents for the space station crew. re . back here on earth, we're standing by waiting for any moment the president of the united states to step out and make remarks about that two-month payroll tax cut extension, the deal that was just reached after republicans and speaker boehner had to finally cave to a political reality. but still, the winner here, american people will not be seeing their taxes go up january
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when he steps out. >> we have fought the fight, the good fight. but i talk to enough members over the last 24 hours who believe that, hey, listen, we don't like this two-month extension, we don't like this reporting problem in the senate bill, and if you can get this fixed, why not -- why not do the right thing for the american people? even though it is not exactly what we want. >> seems that everything we've done this last year has been a knock-down drag-out fight. there's no reason to do that. if there were a message received from this last thing we've been through, i would hope especially -- i repeat, new members of the house will understand that legislation is the art of compromise. >> the payroll tax cut extension just passed by unanimous cons t consent. that doesn't mean everybody in washington was happy about it. a republican congressman from kansas is on the line with me now. sir, want to remind you as well
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as our viewers that when the president steps out we'll cut to him but we might not see him for a few monts more minutes. if the one-year extension was not an option would you have preferred taxed go up at the beginning of the years verses a two-month extension? >> no. but what folks forget, especially senator reid and the president, is that the house passed a 12-month extension and that was sitting on the desk of harry reid and the senate decided to go home and punt and head back to vacation for two months. the uncertainty of a two-month social security tax holiday is actually the typical throwing us out of washington. everyone said they wanted a 12-month and here we are stuck with 50 days and we'll be back in this brouhaha in just a couple weeks again. >> is that a tough sell, maybe even to some of your constituents, you're back home now, but to tell them you're against a two-month extension. to a lot of americans they hear
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you're opposed to an extension of this thing at all and you want their taxes to go up. do you feel you're losing that battle in the public eye? >> no, not at all. because we passed a 12-month extension and we included other things to help actually create jobs and this social security tax holiday has been shown in the last 12 months to not create jobs. we have 25 million americans looking for more work an here we are, we can't even pass a one-year extension for social security tax holiday. i think most folks are coming up to me saying, let's get back on the ball. that's the fact we got to rein in this overspending, this debt and create more jobs here in america. >> representative, did you give any thought to going back and going on the house floor and objecting today? that's all it would have taken, one person could have stopped this. did you think about doing that? >> actually, i did. problem is by the time we were notified that the unanimous consent agreement would be offered, where i come from in kansas, i can't get to washington quick enough on this
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short notice. so that was an option, we did think about that but there's no way to fly in on time to make that happen. back on the pledge to america, we talked about 72 hours where big things like this would give us an opportunity to reel read the deal, actually read the bill. and in this case they decided to not follow that rule as well. >> now represents huelskamp, you're telling me the only thing that kept you from objecting and keeping this two-month extension going forward was that you just couldn't get there in time? you would have if you could have? >> no, what i'm saying is i could not make it, number one. number two, when our leadership decided to drop our desire for a one-year extension to give americans a $1,000 tax cut, versus the two-month variety apparently there were enough folks that wanted to take that fight and follow through so as a result we're going to have to come back in january and go through another two-week debate over this in order to try to
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extend it the rest of the year. but this is the kind of stuff people told me -- congressman, washington is broke and the freshman class is supposed to come in there and make some changes but after one year watching what's occurred and seeing our conservative principles falling by the wayside numerous times in these debates, we've got a lot of progress to make. hopefully over the christmas holidays folks will come to the realization we need to get back to the foundational conservative principles of our party. >> i'm going to bring in wolf blitzer as well. wolf, i know you have a question here. in some regard we see this back and forth, a lot of acrimony here but isn't this what compromise is supposed to look like? >> that's what compromise is all about. but congressman, a quick question -- do you still have confidence in your speaker, john boehner? >> well, i'm disappointed in our entire leadership team. we have not cut spending. we didn't force the president to the table when it came time to
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give him $2 trillion of borrowing authority. we didn't pass the balanced budget amendment. these are things that nearly all of the republicans ran on last fall and we have yet to deliver on them and i think i am frustrated but i think more importantly most americans are frustrated. the ones that elected a conservative majority in the house, what difference did it make? we've got a long ways to go. this is just the last loss we've had this year. we've had numerous other losses as we've gone along, wolf. >> so do you think, congressman, there's a little revolt brewing within the ranks among conservatives, tea party supporters, others that maybe it is time for new republican leadership in the house of representatives? >> i don't see that happening but i think what will happen will be a lot of discussion amongst our leadership with members of the republican conference and with the members of the public saying now what exactly does the republican party stand for and do we stand for lower taxes, and if we do, we pass the 12-month extension. do we want to create more jobs. how do we do that?
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we take on regulations. we create environment for job growth and get back to the core fundamental message but we've got to follow through. washington is broken. the freshman class came in and we thought we could change some things but looking at the past 11 months, nothing's changed in washington compared to a year ago. >> when you decided which of the republican candidates you like so far? >> no. i honestly believe we've got a lot of great candidates in the field and still waiting to see what happens in some of the early primaries and as the debates and advertising continues, hopefully they will understand that the future of america is based on strong conservative republican principles. not only i think the pathway to a republican victory next fall but more importantly what we need to do to get america back on the right back. >> congressman, good luck to you. thanks very much for joining us. merry christmas, happy new year. we'll see you back here in washington. >> absolutely.
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merry christmas. >> t.j., you can see the disappointment among a lot of these republicans out there, trees freshman republicans especially. they came in with a wave of support from the tea party movement and he was rather blunt. he was very candid this congressman from kansas making the point that so far, all of the change they wanted to see that they were elected on, very little of it has really come into effect. >> kind of telling to hear him say there's no real difference between what we accomplish in this republican conference verses a democratic house of representatives there. yeah, no doubt he's disappointed. wolf's not done here. 20 minutes to the top of the hour. still waiting for the president. we're told he could come out at any moment now but making comments about the deal that was made on that two-month tax cut extension. we'll have those comments for you when the president steps out live. stay with us. nyquil: you know i relieve coughs, sneezing, fevers?
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41 minutes now. we're at the white house briefing room where president obama is speexpected to make so comments. the president stayed behind. extended just two months. wrapping up another nasty fight on the hill. you've been up there a lot of years. do they take this opportunity sometimes at the end of the year, a new year coming up to start anew as many of us do in this country, a fresh start? do we expect to see that at the beginning of the year and any hopes of at least a little while putting some things behind them and maybe compromise coming or we got another fight starting up
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first of january? >> well, there ln plenty of fights starting the first of january. though there was a nice moment today. don't know if you were watching harry reid, when he made his statement earlier today, that the senate would unanimously consent to moving forward. he did go out of his way to praise the republican leader in the senate, minority leader mitch mcconnell, saying so much of what the senate does is based on trust. he trusts senator mcconnell. he worked out an arrangement with him. it passed the senate 89-10. compromised two-month extension leading towards potentially a full-year extension of these tax cuts for middle class, working class families all over the country, 160 million americans. and he went out of his way to praise senator mcconnell. that was a nice pre-christmas gesture on the part of senator reid. i wouldn't hold my breath though, t.j., waiting for a whole lot more of that nice gesture as the new year begins. it is going to be a brutal
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political year with a third of the senate up for re-election. all of the house of representatives and of course, the presidential election, general election, coming up this year. this is going to be a tough, tough political season and at times it will get very, very ugly. i have no doubt about that. but that's the nature of politics. >> thank you. i'll squeeze one more break in here as we wait for the president. we'll have that for you live. [ older brother ] hey, that's the last crescent.
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quarter of the top of the hour. standing by for president obama, going to be making some comments before he heads out on his christmas holiday but making comments about the two-month payroll tax cut extension that the house and senate have agreed to. he's signing before he gets out of town. we'll have that for you when he steps out. other news to tell you about. two suicide car bombs ripping through syria's capital. they exploded back-to-back outside heavily guarded intelligence buildings. an opposition leader says the blast killed 3 people. syria does not allow foreign journalists access to the country. mohammed, syria pointing the finger at al qaeda but a lot of people saying, wait a minute --
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>> reporter: that's right, t.j. a lot of incredulity and suspicion being expressed because of what syria maintains were blasted that were caused by al qaeda. we spoke to opposition figures today and rights activists inidentii inside syria. they said the timing of these blasts is pretty pu-- they say this really plays in to the narrative that bashar al assad the president of syria has tried to present to the world that he's cracking down on terrorist elements in that country. the opposition figures we spoke with said this is clearly a tactic that was staged by the assad regime to try to show the international community that there is terrorism in syria. they maintain that there is not and they are worried that bashar al assad even with these observers in syria now, that he will continue his crackdown, his brutal crackdown on
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pro-democracy activists there in that country. t.j.? >> more protests and the protests continue? >> reporter: yes. according to rights activists we've spoken with, there are lots of protests going on across syria today. we have amateur video of one in particular, can't authenticate it but it purports to show protesters in one town. they're clearly trying to send a message to the international community. you can see an english banner which reads "civilized world. syria's regime's massers can have put your credibility about human rights at stake." this is the image the opposition in syria has been trying to present to the international community for some time now. they don't trust what the arab league says they're going to do, they think they're ineffective and just cooperating with the syrian regime and that the syrian regime will use the arab league's presence as a stall tactic and pursue the brutal crackdown that's going on.
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this goes to show how much incentive they have putting out banners like this in english, a sign they want the attention of the world. >> thank you so much. let me say hello to our -- chad meyers, people are traveling, wanting to know if weather's going to cause a problem. >> i can't believe i've been here 12 different christmases here and hanukahs and i can't believe what great luck we're having this year. so that's good. new mexico, it is one spot and that's the real bad spot in the entire country today. it is snowing in el paso, texas. it's snowing in albuquerque, it is snowing in lubbock and this is the only significant area of any snowfall that will slow you down. there will be snow events in the pacific northwest, above 5,000 feet in the passes. here's tomorrow. rain through the southeast. it is rain even in atlanta yesterday, we were 71 degrees.
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it is hard to imagine that christmas is coming. it is 71 degrees just a day ago. ground delays are not that significant because every plane is backed up a few minutes and the average to be about an hour or so. breezy conditions for travel across the southwest, windy. some of the areas across the l.a. basin yesterday had wind over 60 miles per hour. we are still not out of the santa ana event. but rain showers across the southeast. flurries in the northeast for sunday. i think that's just for effect. maybe santa's sled will land a little bit softer on some of the rooftops here. but the chance of white christmases across much of the country significantly less than we have a seen in the past. it's been very, very warm. temperatures up the east coast yesterday were 60s an 70s. i'm sure that's great shopping weather but i'm sure the retailers will complain no one's buying mittens or something. there's always some complaint. getting close to the top of
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the hour, getting close to hearing from the president. we're standing by live. comments from president obama on this tax cut deal. stay with us. hello, how can i deliver world-class service
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is. starning by any moment waiting to hear from president obama waiting to make comments about the payroll tax cut extension agreed to by the house an senate. he'll sign that before he heads off to vacation.
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we'll have those comments live when they do happen. alison kosik is at the new york stock exchange. holiday cheer? >> i am seeing some holiday cheer on the big board. the dow's up 90 points but i really want you to look at the s&p. that's what your 401(k) tracks. that's inched back into the plus column for the year. talk about cheer. there it is. wire are stocks gaining momentum? new home sales came in better than expected. it is good news to see housing stabilizing a little bit. investors are focusing on the positive. the light volume we are seeing today, expect that through the end of the year. about another five trading days left in the year. >> bringing back in wolf blitzer as we've been waiting here for minutes now. still standing by for the president. expected at 12:15 but hey, he's the president, he's on his own schedule sometimes, not ours,
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wolf. but the president, it's been interesting to watch him over the past couple of days. it's almost like he's been home alone as he was waiting for the house and senate to get their ducks in a row, get him something to sign. he went out shopping with the dog on his only and whatnot. i mean is that kind of telling of what this process has been like? >> he said he made the point that he was going to be working. he expected the senate and house to be working until they resolved this matter. at stake a tax cut for 160 million americans. that's nothing to sneeze at. so his wife, two daughters, they headed out to hawaii days ago. our ownbyian th by yarianna kei there as well -- a really tough assignment she has out in honolulu, but someone has to do it for cnn but brianna got that assignment. the president will flight out there later on, be there in plenty of time for christmas eve, coming back right after new year's. it is going to be a tough
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period. he hopes he gets some rest. he not only has to do the nation's business but he's up for re-election. you'll see him out on the campaign trail a lot after the new year. you've seen him somewhat already but it is only just beginning for him so he's got to be president, commander in chief. he's also got to be campaigner in chief so he better rest up next week and get his batteries recharged for what is going to be a difficult struggle. >> that is a good point, you never stop being president, you never get a time to take off at all but hawaii sounds pretty good about now. jessica yellin at the white house waiting for the president. little bit of a delay here, but hey, he's not on our schedule, of course. what are we expecting to hear from the president and what do we all knee to be listening in for? >> well, t.j., what i'll be listening for is, it will be interesting to hear how much he focuses on what this bill will do for the american people. we've heard him talk about the $40 in the average american's
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paycheck versus how much he's going to press congress to get the full year extension done in the new year and how he would like to pay for that. this will be a look ahead of keeping pressure on congress next year to get the job done going forward. then there is this question, le single out people for praise, harry reid and possibly even senate minority leader mitch mcconnell who's been sort of his arch enemy this past year politically who really helped get the ball over the finish line by pressing john boehner, the speaker of the house, to give in and do this deal in the end. that was sort of in keeping with this sort of bipartisan theme he has struck during his 2008 campaign, but in more recent months we've heard the president talk about a dysfunctional congress. so perhaps we could hear a message from him talking about how congress waited to the last minute to get this done and congress needs to be more functional in the future. so those are the kinds of themes it will be interesting to listen
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for. because whichever themes he hits, i think sort of set up campaign themes we'll hear from him next year. so all of this is clearly about policy but there's also a lot of politic at play given that we're heading into an election year. as for the delay, this is speculation but he has two things to sign before he goes, presumably. one is this payroll tax extension, then the omnibus which funds the government through the next year. it is possible he's been waiting for that payroll bill to get over here, for all we know. or maybe he's just packing for hawaii. joke. >> he's got a couple things to wrap. he bought some christmas gifts -- >> i'm sure he has people pack for him. >> he wants to do it himself. jessica, thank you so much. as we have a little fun there as we wait on the president here, crossing over to the top of the hour, 1:00 eastern time. waiting for the president and,

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